PMW 2018-061 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In my preceding article I began a brief study of Matthew 16:27 and 28. I am providing evidence that Jesus speaks of the “coming of the Son of Man” as applying to his Second Coming at the Final Judgment to end history. Upon declaring this, he adds a note about his near-term coming, which demonstrates his authority at the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. This article will conclude the argument by providing my fourth point, following upon the preceding three.
So now we must note not only the wording of the passage, but its flow, setting, and purpose.
In v. 28 Jesus inserts the “truly I say to you” formula (v. 28), which he often uses. He always uses this formula as a bold underscoring of something he has said. So? How does it function here? This will explain his rationale in the setting of his current instruction.
The contextual setting
As I will be demonstrating in my forthcoming commentary on Matthew 21-25, we should interpret Matthew in terms of Composition Criticism. That is, we must consider the full contextual flow of the whole Gospel of Matthew as he himself presents his material. We should do this rather than trying to piece together his oral and written sources, as per Redaction Criticism. The macro context of Matthew (Matthew’s whole Gospel itself) has the overarching story moving from a narrow Jewish focus to a broad “all nations” outreach. Local contexts (such as here in Matt. 16) must be understood in terms of their own broader context. 
But here in the local context, we must note that these two verses do not appear in an eschatological discourse, such as in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25). Rather, they appear as an eschatological appendix to an exhortational statement. Verses 27 and 28 are concluding Jesus’ warning that discipleship is costly (Matt. 16:24–26). Let’s look at this matter closely.
After Peter declares Jesus to be “the Christ, the son of the living God” (Matt. 16:13–19), Jesus warns the disciples not to openly tell others of this, i.e., of his Messianic identity (v. 20). Why?
The Lord normally avoids the term “Messiah,” preferring the largely unused and somewhat ambiguous designation “the Son of Man.” He does this intentionally because of the Zealot tendency among many first-century Jews who were chafing under Roman dominance. They wanted a political deliverer (cf. John 6:15; cp. Luke 19:11; 24:21; John 18:36; Acts 5:34–37). They desired glory for their nation (Acts 1:6), not redemption from their sin.
But Jesus wants to complete his own redemptive interpretation of his Messiahship. He does not want to let widespread, political notions confuse the people. In fact, just such a problem is evidenced in Peter’s rebuking Jesus for saying he will die (v. 22). Peter’s ill-conceived response results in Jesus’ immediate and vigorous rebuke, warning them not to prefer the Jews’ interests over God’s meaning (v. 23). True Messiahship is redemptive, not political (Matt. 26:51-54; John 12:23–26; 18:33-37). He will carefully instruct the Emmaus Road disciples regarding his true meaning and ministry after his resurrection (Luke 24:18–27). At that time they will be forced to reckon with the reality and necessity of his death (John 2:22; 12:16; 20:9).
He Shall Have Dominion
(paperback by Kenneth Gentry)
A classic, thorough explanation and defense of postmillennialism (600+ pages). Complete with several chapters answering specific objections.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
So Jesus now warns the disciples that they are not to look for a political goal in his ministry; they are not to take up the sword to fight for him (cp. Matt. 25:52; John 18:36). Thus, now in Matt. 16, for the first time (“from that time Jesus began,” v. 21a), he unambiguously informs them that he must die to secure his goal (“He must … suffer … and be killed,” v. 21b). Earlier he had only alluded to his death in veiled ways (e.g., Matt. 9:15; 12:40).
But here, after saying he must die as the Redeemer, he explains an important truth: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (v. 24). He adds that “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (v. 25). This is directly relevant to their first-century setting vis-à-vis the Jews, who will persecute Jesus’ followers (Matt. 10:16-23; 23:34-35; cp. Acts 7:58–59; 9:1–2; 12:1–3).
Christ then puts the matter in the form of a rhetorical question, showing the eternal consequences involved: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (v. 26).
The contextual point
Then Jesus presents the two statements that lie before us in Matt. 16:27 and 28:
“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
What he is saying is this: commitment to him is of enormous consequence. The “for” (Gk., gar) in v. 27 introduces the reason that giving up one’s life for him is wise. It is of eternal significance — because all men will eventually be judged by him at the Final Judgment (v. 26; cp. Matt. 25:31–34). For when Jesus comes again he will “repay every man according to his deeds.” Thus, the “for” here explains the significance of his call to discipleship. Consequently, he presents the call to discipleship in the light of eschatological realities.
But then Jesus immediately adds as an emphatic demonstration of this truth:
“Truly [Gk., amen] I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (v. 28).
With the words of vv. 27 and 28, he is effectively declaring:
“It is wise for you to forfeit your life for me, because a man’s relationship to me will determine his eternal destiny (v. 27). This is because when I return ‘in the glory of the Father’ at the Second Advent, I will judge all men; no one will escape judgment (Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rev. 20:11–13; cp. John 5:22, 27). And historical evidence of this long-term, ultimate reality will be confirmed to you in the near term. For you will see me coming in kingdom authority in the near-term event involving my judgment upon Jerusalem (v. 28). You will soon have a demonstration of my kingdom authority to judge!”
When Shall These Things Be?
(ed. by Keith Mathison)
A Reformed response to the aberrant HyperPreterist theolgy.
Gentry’s chapter critiques HyperPreterism from an historical and creedal perspective.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
In several places in the Gospels, Jesus alludes to Dan. 7:13–14, as he does here. This important Messianic text speaks of the Son of Man’s coming to God to receive dominion and a kingdom:
I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.
Therefore, this Danielic passage speaks of Christ’s vindication and exaltation by the Father, not of his coming to the earth. This passage is particularly applied to the AD 70 judgment upon Israel in Matt. 24:30. But its initial fulfillment will be at his resurrection, whereupon he declares “all authority has been given to Me” (Matt. 28:18; cp. Rom. 1:4; Eph. 1:20-22; Phil. 2:8-11). The Great Commission clearly echoes Dan. 7:13–14, justifying it in terms of Old Testament prophecy. 
So then, Jesus’ warning of the long-term, eternal consequences of not following him (v. 27) is backed up by a near-term, physical consequence: the judgment on Jerusalem (v. 28). AD 70 is a picture of, a pointer to, a proof regarding the Final Judgment. Thus, AD 70 will be a dramatic warning of the reality of that Final Judgment, which Jesus presents here to emphasize the reality of the Final Judgment based on one’s relationship to him. The disciples will see a powerful vindication of this truth in their own experience in AD 70, for it will “verify, authenticate, and underscore the validity of the statement in 16:27” regarding the Second Advent (Jeffrey Gibbs, Jerusalem and Parousia) .
As Gibbs further states: “Even before the day when this man [the Son of Man] comes in his Father’s glory to repay each according to his or her work, some present with Jesus in the story of Matthew’s Gospel will not die until they see that this man is coming with royal power.” Thus, Jesus intentionally links the Jerusalem Judgment and the Final Judgment: theologically, not historically; as type and anti-type; as proximate and as ultimate. AD 70 is a particular event with a typological significance. Jesus is the Lord of Israel and the Lord of history.
1. Though this is beyond the concern of the present blog article, I must note that as evangelical Christians we should also recognize the theological context of the full New Testament (and Old Testament!) message. God’s revelation is a consistent whole that presents a coherent theology (2 Tim. 3:16-17; cf. John 10:35). We approach Scripture as Christians, committed to the unified doctrine of Scripture. The tendency of liberalism is to discount historic orthodoxy as an encumbrance to scholarly analysis. The tendency of cultism is to move out of the orbit of Christian orthodoxy as necessary for creating a new theological world of its own. All people approach particular texts of Scripture with certain presuppositions. One presupposition is the inspired and inerrant character of any biblical text. Thus, as interpreters our hermeneutic reflexes should be Christian, rather than secular, cultic, Jewish, Islamic, or whatever.
Consequently, in my last article I included a lengthy footnote citing several older Christian scholars declaring a distinction of referent between Matt. 16:27 and 28. I did not present this information as a proof of the distinction between the referents. Rather, I gave the information to serve as evidence of something else: my being within historic Christian orthodoxy. My understanding of the Matt. 16:27-28 passage cannot be dismissed as, “Oh, that’s just Gentry talking.” Actually, it is the interpreter who is outside of historic Christian orthodoxy who should be on the defensive, not the orthodox believer offering an interpretation within the bounds of orthodoxy. See my opening chapter in Keith L. Mathison, ed., When Shall These Things Be?, which is also re-used as the opening chapter in my book, Have We Missed the Second Coming. I would not want anyone to complain: “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who is Gentry?” (Acts 19:15). I strive to represent the historic Christian faith, not myself.
2. In Matthew, Jesus frequently either directly references or subtly echoes Dan. 7:13-14. We see this especially in Matt. 16:28; 19:28; 24:30-31; 25:31-34; 26:64. Daniel’s Son of Man passage does not speak of Christ’s Second Coming to the earth, but rather of his entering into the presence of God in heaven, in order to receive authority over the nations and vindication over his enemies. Nevertheless, it certainly has applicational significance for the Second Coming, for it presents his grant of authority at God’s throne, which gives him the right to rule and to judge the world system (cp. John 5:27; Acts 10:42). Thus, this heavenly grant of authority allows him to return in judgment over all nations (as we see elsewhere in Matthew’s Gospel, e.g., Matt. 25:31-46; cp. Matt. 13:41-43).
Dan. 7:13-14: “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”
JESUS, MATTHEW, AND OLIVET
I am currently researching a commentary on Matthew 21–25, the literary context of the Olivet Discourse from Matthew’s perspective. My research will demonstrate that Matthew’s presentation demands that the Olivet Discourse refer to AD 70 (Matt. 24:3–35) as an event that anticipates the Final Judgment at the Second Advent (Matt. 24:36–25:46). This will explode the myth that Jesus was a Jewish sage focusing only on Israel. The commentary will be about 250 pages in length.
If you would like to support me in my research, I invite you to consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to my research and writing ministry: GoodBirth Ministries. Your help is much appreciated!